Coventry & Warwickshire

Warwick University hires legal expert for rape chat review

Building at University of Warwick Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The University of Warwick has been criticised for how it handled an investigation into a group chat encouraging rape

A university at the centre of a Whatsapp rape chat probe has laid out review plans after its handling of the investigation was called into question.

Warwick University was accused of "condoning rape culture" after students who threatened rape in an online chat had their campus bans reduced.

The university said it was "deeply sorry" to the victims.

A legal expert will review its disciplinary process and make recommendations for the future.

Image copyright Jessica Hughes
Image caption Protesters marched on campus using the hashtag "Shame on you Warwick"

Hundreds of students protested over the university's handling of the investigation earlier this month, after 10-year bans for two men were reduced to one year.

The two men have since decided not to return to the university in September.

Messages were sent last summer reading "sometimes it's fun to just go wild and rape 100 girls" and "rape the whole flat to teach them all a lesson".

Several of those involved in the WhatsApp group chat messages encouraged others to rape specific students - one of whom said she felt "incredibly anxious" about the prospect of their return to campus.

Image copyright ThE BOAR
Image caption Student newspapers obtained the screenshots after complaints were made to the university

"Many, inside and outside the university, have called into question our processes for dealing with the kind of abhorrent behaviour we saw in the group chat," registrar Rachel Sandby-Thomas said.

She announced the university had recruited Dr Sharon Persaud, a criminal lawyer, to lead an independent review and make recommendations for future disciplinary procedures.

These recommendations will then be discussed by the university's council and senate.

The university hopes to conclude review by the end of the academic year.

Ms Sandby-Thomas added that Warwick University was making additional wellbeing resources available, including a psychologist, available to affected students.

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